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2018 2.5i Limited w/EyeSight
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Our outback will be the first car for which I'll be using separate summer and winter wheels, and I'm a little confused about when it's appropriate to get an alignment done. It seems like an alignment is recommended any time you get new tires put on a car, but what exactly does 'new' mean? The wear on the summer and winter sets will be very different, so should I be considering a wheel swap to be 'new' tires?

How do most folks handle this?
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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Generally if you purchase a new set of tires it's a good idea to do an alignment to verify it's all good so you don't wear out your new tires. Swapping winter/summer tires are not really "new" tires. Alignments are good to have done when you have any front end work (parts replaced), you hit something that moves the wheel off center or your car does not stay straight with the wheel straight.

I wouldn't get an alignment when I switched from winter to summer tires or back. That's my opinion.
 

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When you do need an alignment, find a shop that will do lifetime alignment. We got ours done at Firestone for $169, and we can get it aligned whenever we want for as long as we own the car. If you plan to keep it a long time, it will definitely save you money in the long run. We have them check it every time they rotate the tires.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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When you do need an alignment, find a shop that will do lifetime alignment. We got ours done at Firestone for $169, and we can get it aligned whenever we want for as long as we own the car. If you plan to keep it a long time, it will definitely save you money in the long run. We have them check it every time they rotate the tires.
Same here. I have one for each of my cars. The techs know my car and that is a good thing since I have aftermarket adjustable rear arm on both cars. I don't abuse it. I probably average 3 alignments a year, per car.
 

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There's a "check" and an "alignment". You need the alignment when something is out of spec, but when it comes to how often to check it to see if everything is still in spec...that's the question.

More and more places are adding those laser alignment quick-test jigs. At my dealer, they have one of those set up right where you pull into the service garage. Ask for a complimentary alignment check and they'll test it while you checking in for your oil change or whatever. Doesn't take more than a couple minutes to check it, and if everything is in the green you don't need an alignment. Places will offer a free lifetime alignment for an extra couple dollars.

I don't know how accurate those quick-test things are, but I do see them at a lot of places.

For me, I let getting it checked early summer, after all the winter/spring potholes have been patched. Anything that got knocked out of whack from winter damaged roads can get re-aligned in time for another year of driving.
 

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2015 Ice Silver 3.6R! Love this car.
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There's a "check" and an "alignment". You need the alignment when something is out of spec, but when it comes to how often to check it to see if everything is still in spec...that's the question.

More and more places are adding those laser alignment quick-test jigs. At my dealer, they have one of those set up right where you pull into the service garage. Ask for a complimentary alignment check and they'll test it while you checking in for your oil change or whatever. Doesn't take more than a couple minutes to check it, and if everything is in the green you don't need an alignment. Places will offer a free lifetime alignment for an extra couple dollars.

I don't know how accurate those quick-test things are, but I do see them at a lot of places.
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Took my '15 3.6R in for 30,000 mile yesterday and they did one of those laser alignment things. Not sure I trust it that much as it seems it could be influenced by the placement of the reflectors on the wheel? it wasn't that far out of spec and they came to me afterwards and said "we recommend all four wheels alignment" They also recommended four new tires when most of my tread was a 5/32-4/32 with only one tread at 3/32 (so they say). They used a laser depth checker on the same setup as the alignment checker. I did the penny/nickle test on the same tread and it came in at 4/32 so I'm not so sure about their instrument. Anyone have any thoughts on these observations?

Anyone have a recommendation for better wearing tires than the duelers? They wanted 650$ for 4 of em and I think that's robbery. Wanted 100$ for an alignment.
 

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Depends greatly on local road condition and usage, but for my driving every other year has proven to be about right.

I subscribe to the wisdom of doing it in early summer- why pay to fix a consequential problem until the road crew has fixed the root problem?

If you're always hauling a full car on rougher roads, you might need it more often.
 

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It's highly variable so there's no hard and fast rules. You can drive 100,000 miles and two sets of tires and never need an alignment or clearly far less as well...

New tires is a good time - although if the new tires have been on there for years and show perfect wear you don't have much to worry about. But tires are risky so it's almost like "insurance".

Keep an eye on tire wear at each rotation, including the inside edge which tends to hide from you.
 

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I probably average 3 alignments a year, per car.
awesome.

Do you find alignment highly variable - like one time they're dead on and one time they're way off, or consistently off a tad here and there?

Do you see front/rear/left/right being off more often?

Any other trends you notice doing this so often?
 

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Took my '15 3.6R in for 30,000 mile yesterday and they did one of those laser alignment things. Not sure I trust it that much as it seems it could be influenced by the placement of the reflectors on the wheel? it wasn't that far out of spec and they came to me afterwards and said "we recommend all four wheels alignment" They also recommended four new tires when most of my tread was a 5/32-4/32 with only one tread at 3/32 (so they say). They used a laser depth checker on the same setup as the alignment checker. I did the penny/nickle test on the same tread and it came in at 4/32 so I'm not so sure about their instrument. Anyone have any thoughts on these observations?

Anyone have a recommendation for better wearing tires than the duelers? They wanted 650$ for 4 of em and I think that's robbery. Wanted 100$ for an alignment.
Tread depth can vary across a tire, so take several measurements, inside edge/center/outside edge. It's probably best to go with the smallest value. I've always figured that 4/32 means it's time to start looking for a good sale, because you'll hit 3/32 soon enough and that's about as low as you want to go. Also, consider that winter is coming up and you might as well replace them before winter instead of trying to squeeze another 3-4 months out of them right when you will want that extra tread depth the most. If you came up with 3/32 on one tire, then it's time to change them all.

I am not sure of the starting tread depth of your particular tires, it will vary on model and brand. If they started at 10/32 and 3/32 is when they should be replaced (2/32 is the wear bars), then you have 7/32 useful tread. So if you are down to 4/32 then you have used up 6/32, or 86%, of your tread, you can start doing the math on how many miles/inch to get a rough idea of how many miles you have left on that remaining 1/32. That math is not totally accurate because some tires have different tread wear at different depths, but it will give you a rough idea of how many months you have left.

Alignments are not very expensive, $100 sounds about in the proper range. I don't know anything about the accuracy of those quick-check measurements systems, I've also wondered about how much variation there is in the mirror placements on the wheels. But more and more places are using them - they are so quick that a shop can do them for free and then make money on whatever alignment business they can generate from them.
 

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2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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awesome.

Do you find alignment highly variable - like one time they're dead on and one time they're way off, or consistently off a tad here and there?

Do you see front/rear/left/right being off more often?

Any other trends you notice doing this so often?
Well, they know me. So when either car goes up on the rack, they call me out and we look at it together. I talk to the tech about where I would like to see it. It all depends on what is happening with me. I change parts around often and set my own rough alignments sometimes.

The great thing about my Firestone is, they are willing to let me see. They never make any extra $ off me. I appreciate them holding up their end. When the A/C need to be serviced next summer on both cars, I will have them do it.

The biggest trend I see in Subaru alignment sheets...toe within specification, but not even side to side. And often it will be compounded by the camber working in the same direction.
 

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The biggest trend I see in Subaru alignment sheets...toe within specification, but not even side to side. And often it will be compounded by the camber working in the same direction.
great, thanks. interesting, i would have guessed (for no reason) toe to be migrating the least.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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Well, they know me. So when either car goes up on the rack, they call me out and we look at it together. I talk to the tech about where I would like to see it. It all depends on what is happening with me. I change parts around often and set my own rough alignments sometimes.

The great thing about my Firestone is, they are willing to let me see. They never make any extra $ off me. I appreciate them holding up their end. When the A/C need to be serviced next summer on both cars, I will have them do it.

The biggest trend I see in Subaru alignment sheets...toe within specification, but not even side to side. And often it will be compounded by the camber working in the same direction.
where was it you had a mouth breather mucking up your pretty megan parts way way way out of wack?

as he never seen such pretty things. (insert virginal joke here).
 

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2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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where was it you had a mouth breather mucking up your pretty megan parts way way way out of wack?

as he never seen such pretty things. (insert virginal joke here).
That was the only time I went to the Firestone in Englewood.

:28:

:ucrazy:

:twak:

:smkchr:

:flush:

:cursin:

They were supposed to be doing a toe-and-go up front and NOT touch the rear. My guys Adolfo and Richard work out of the 104th and Federal Firestone. Richard already had the rear set, but the steering wheel was off a touch. I thought I could get an alternative shop to straighten the wheel only over my lunch hour.

No...they went after Megan with a a couple of pipe wrenchs and beat her up real good.

I made them replace the links for $180....
 

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2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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